How much to offer on old cherry planks? Update.

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Forum topic by derosa posted 04-22-2012 02:26 AM 2775 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2798 days

04-22-2012 02:26 AM

I was talking with someone local a couple months ago about hand planes and he mentioned that he had some cherry planks sitting in the top floor of his barn that were 150ish years old, most are about 20’ long, 22-24” wide and 1-3/4 thick. He mentioned that he wanted to make something with them but found the wood too hard/dense for his tools, he even showed me a piece and it was way heavier then any cherry I’ve seen at the mill but did look like rough sawn cherry. Fast forward to today and I asked if he wanted to sell any of it, he told me he had to unbury it and if I can come back next week I can take a look and maybe make a reasonable offer. What would you offer?

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

28 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


6909 posts in 2561 days

#1 posted 04-22-2012 02:34 AM

One plank could be 70bf. Holy smokes! That is one big stick… Tough to say on value. $2 a bf doesnt seem unreasonable to me. Good luck.

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4175 posts in 2524 days

#2 posted 04-22-2012 02:36 AM

I know something like that old old wood goes for $3.50 to $7.00 a board foot. It looks like a once in a life time find.


-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3651 days

#3 posted 04-22-2012 02:48 AM

That’s quite a tease. I’d have to buy at least one plank just for bragging rights : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4363 days

#4 posted 04-22-2012 03:13 AM

Check the quality of the wood. If there is white powder piles on the planks then it is infested with powder post bettles. They can be nasty if you get them into your shop. I use Tim-Bor and make a liquid and spray the wood. It seems to kill them I soak both sides of the plank and then put it away for a year to kill the little buggers.

The price is degraded if they are present. They love maple and oak.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3449 days

#5 posted 04-22-2012 03:36 AM

I absolutely lve cherry wood, I mean drooling, slobering, gitty, love. That said, the fact that the boards are extra looooong and extra wiiiiiiiiide will bump up the price, maybe considerable. I see a lot of folks selling basically cutoff for $3 to $4 a board foot. These days 4/4 cherry starts around $5.50 to $6.50/bf it seems, and 8/4 rough cherry lumber is around $7.50, usually 8 to 12 inches wide, maybe up to 14”, but 20”, 22”, 2 feet wide at 7/4 rough lumber, man you could add at last a couple of $$$ per board foot, $10/bf maybe. Depending on the board, i.e. curly, good figure, color, a special board could see $15/bf. Of course that is retail, but even at say 50% off retail, which would be a rare gift, $5 to $7/bf. Like Arlin “once in a lifetime find”.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2798 days

#6 posted 04-22-2012 03:57 AM

I agree that if these boards check out nice it is a once in a lifetime find, I’m just hoping it’s a find I can afford. Obviously I’m going to try lowballing a little but I also have no desire to rip someone off. Thanks for the answers, I’ll have to see what I can get and hope for at least one board. I would be cool to have just one to make a head and foot board out of for my bedroom set.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3266 days

#7 posted 04-22-2012 09:27 PM

I have made these deals several times before. I now Curb My Enthusiasm. I would try to be there to “Help” the guy uncover them. Like Karson above—check for insect damage. Bring an ice pick to check for various rot. Note checks and cracks. Measure some boards-length for BF estimates. Note how it was stacked, stickered? Check thickness on four corners, tapered boards will change your attitude about “buy of a lifetime.” Don’t fall in love before the first date (you may have already). Mediocre lumber is so no matter how cheap it is. Set in your mind what the maximum you will pay per BF. Fill your pockets with Benjamins. Enough to pay cash for the whole pile. Ask the owner what he wants for the whole pile—dsfGreen American Cash today, I load (bring Brother-in-law size 23 neck, 5 3/4 hat size to help.) See if he has other wood to bundle with it. Solve his storage problem for him.

I don’t give a number until I’m sure of the wood and the buyer. Make sure you negotiate with the owner of the lumber—sons, daughters and friends will waste your time getting to the real price. If he starts talking about retail price of cherry at Woodcraft or other lumber yard—you are in trouble. Buy one board and go home. Better buys will come along. If the price is close to what you want to pay ie $2.00bf or less for the pile—just say sold if everything else is good to excellent on the whole pile. (I generally can get softwoods at $300/1000 and hardwoods at $750/1000 bf.) Lowballing only gets the old fellers hurt or angry. Buy a little and leave your name and address—tell him where you need to be to take the whole pile. (Way below his asking. Closer to the wholesale prices for this grade (it has some defects and you think it is 2common for example. A little less than my prices above.) Some guys don’t like to see the buyer walk away. But Don’t Sell Out.
If you go home with one board—make something out of it right away—figure just how good it is. I do go back if I find something special.
You have no idea how it was harvested, processed and stored for a century and a half. Moisture is the worst, bird shit next. Culls, bark edge, wane, twist and curve only mean lots more work for you. Buyer be ware.

Good luck. If you take any of this to heart. You will need to have a way to present such “Buys of a Lifetime” to SWMBO. Its not just the money-its space, you time, and spiders. Hope you enjoy the hunt and get a few laughs. spj

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3651 days

#8 posted 04-23-2012 03:08 AM

”(bring Brother-in-law size 23 neck, 5 3/4 hat size to help.)” LMAO !!!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2798 days

#9 posted 04-23-2012 03:26 AM

Stevie, thanks for all the info, it will really help. I’m going is a little skeptical expecting that in 150 years something must have happened to some of it, just hoping to get enough to make a bed and dresser if it is in good enough shape. I’ll settle for rustic but not rotted or punky.
Karson, thanks for the info on the powder post beetles, don’t want any of those in my shop.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4901 posts in 3923 days

#10 posted 04-23-2012 02:10 PM

Brother-in-law my a$$. That sounds like my first WIFE. (Just jokin’.)


View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2889 days

#11 posted 04-23-2012 02:44 PM

It should be dry by now…

Good Luck!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View WDHLT15's profile


1730 posts in 2439 days

#12 posted 04-24-2012 02:32 AM

I think that $2.00/BF is too low for cherry lumber that is wide, thick, and good grade unless the guy just wants to get rid of it and is not interested in what it is worth. I sell cherry lumber and get around $3.00/BF for good grade air dried. 8/4 stock is more like $4.50. Good luck. I bet there will be some exceptional wood that you will find once you dig out the stack.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2813 days

#13 posted 04-24-2012 04:14 AM

I like Steve’s insights. I got into some of wood described that way (but not as old) and I’d never seen so many knots in cherry! I was not very usable. And how often, outside of moulding or boat work, do you need anything over 10’ long? Oh, sometimes. Maybe 12. So the length to me doesn’t automatically declare itself a premium.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2798 days

#14 posted 04-24-2012 04:20 AM

Lee, good point on the length, although it may be good for some if the wood it good I’ll have to slice it in half to get it home, let alone into the shop.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View SteveMI's profile


1091 posts in 3257 days

#15 posted 04-25-2012 02:40 AM

I had a neighbor offer up a wood stash of Cherry, Elm, Walnut and Cedar. When we went to unstack it the situation Karson and Steviepete mentioned was evident. Some of the stickers had compressed and those planks were a vermin paradise. Other boards hadn’t been seal properly on the ends which cased cracks over 3 feet down the grain. A water leak soaked one corner with the wood being mush. None of it was useful. If it wasn’t managed at least minimally, then you may be disappointed.


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